Graphic: Standard US Army campaign ribbons bar for the Vietnam War

1st MIBARS In Vietnam!

Facility Improvement

Soldiers Doing What Soldiers Do In Any War:

 Working To Improve Operating Conditions 

Photo: Reproduction Section officer and senior non-commissioned officer

Photo Credit: MIV

Above: Reproduction Section Chief , left, with Section senior NCO in December 1966.   The Section NCO rotated out of Vietnam shortly after this picture was taken, but returned to DaNang the following November for a second tour of duty with  "B" Detachment. 

Expert Help Was Available When Needed

In conjunction with renovation of the deteriorating ES-38A van, the Reproduction Section replaced the existing gray clapboard entryway of its facility with a substantially larger building that provided additional production space, room to process conventional photography in support of the Hand-held Camera Program, and shelter for Repro personnel who were not working in the van.  Mindful of "B" Detachment's potential need to change locations quickly, the ES-38A was "butted" into the new building from the courtyard side of the  I Corps Compound so that the van could be plucked easily from the building with a small crane and reloaded on its truck.  An extended roof  that could be easily demolished if necessary protected the van from the harsh tropical sun and constant moisture.

A US Navy SeaBee Battalion -- a Naval Construction Battalion -- was located up the coast from DaNang at nearby Red Beach and was asked by "B" Detachment to construct the shelter.  The SeaBees arrived with all of the necessary building materials -- concrete, lumber, roofing -- razed the existing shelter and constructed a new facility in what seemed to be less than a week.

This new facility served "B" Detachment well throughout 1967.  It was later learned that the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) I Corps commanding general was miffed because he had not approved construction of the new building on his compound.  No Republic of Viet Nam Cross of Gallantry, a decoration routinely awarded to departing American personnel of all ranks, was presented to the Reproduction Section Chief.

Before and During Construction

Photo: Reproduction Section facility prior to improvement

Photo Credit: MIV 

Photo: US Navy SeaBees laying out the foundation of the new Repro Section facility

Photo Credit:  MIV

Demonstrating their legendary "Can Do" approach, the SeaBees razed the original structure, Above, and engineered and built the cement-floor building shown being staked out by the U.S. Navy construction crew, Above, Right.  Most of "B" Detachment's personnel helped out with the project, the photograph at Right showing Imagery Interpretation Specialists who "turned to" and crossed the Detachment "street" to provide muscle in the preliminary fitting of the ES-38A van into the framing of the front wall of the Reproduction Section's new structure.   


Photo: Members of the Imagery Interpretation Section pour across the "company street" to help fit the ES-38A into the new facility

Photo Credit:  MIV

In Initial Operation . . .
Photo: The  ES-38A mounted into the front of the new facility
Photo Credit: MIV

Above:  Almost complete, the new Reproduction Section shop is shown, seemingly idle but actuall in full operation, with carpentry work and installation of the ES-38A essentially finished.  The lighter lower side wall of the ES-38A van, partially obscured by the upright support of the shelter, shows the amount of aluminum wall that was replaced when the van was cleared out and its corroded metal repaired.  The new facility accommodated the ES-38A, provided additional covered work and administrative space for the Repro Section, and gave "B" Detachment its first darkroom for processing conventional film -- a necessity to support the Hand-held Camera Program.

. . . and With Landscaping Completed!

Right:  Now complete with landscaping, including a whimsical planter box and foundation plantings, the new photo lab facility served "B" Detachment well throughout the remainder of 1967.  Note the covered opening in the front of the van, intended to accommodate a second air conditioning unit -- again in use in the commanding officer's office.  

Photo: The new facility complete with foundation plantings

Photo Credit: MIV



A Special Message of Gratitude For the SeaBees of the United States Navy

Photo Credit: Seabee Historical Foundation

Remembering "B" Detachment's Unpaid Debt --

The SeaBees asked for an aerial mosaic of their camp at Red Beach, but "B" Detachment was unsuccessful in its attempts to schedule a USAF reconnaissance jet to take aerial photographs over DaNang.  The debt owed to the SeaBees by "B" Detachment for building its Reproduction facility remained, embarrassingly, unpaid.

It is hoped that this acknowledgement of the SeaBees  support of "B" Detachment, 1st MIBARS', operations in 1967 will help compensate for the Detachment's inability to follow-through with the requested aerial photo mosaic.

Above:  The National Seabee Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia

Well Done and Thanks Again, SeaBees!

Out of the Weather -- And Getting Down To Work!

The photographs below show interior of "B" Detachment's Reproduction Section facility in 1967, shortly after its completion.  Left:  Long shot of the new facility, taken from the ES-38A doorway, shows the extent of the building.  Beyond the seated figure in the distance at the center of the photo, there was a wall with a baffled entry way to yet another room, the hand-held photo processing lab.  Right:  Interior of the hand-held lab, showing a Repro Specialist operating a machine for drying photographic prints after processing and washing.  This trooper was with the Repro Section during the planning, construction and activation of the hand-held photographic program and became "B" Detachment's primary resource person for the development and processing of 35-mm film and for the enlargement of selected portions of large-format aerial reconnaissance imagery, all with a bare minimum of equipment and the usual dark room amenities.  The Repro Section crew scrounged the dryer, along with safelights such as the one mounted on the wall directly in front of this trooper.  The plywood interior was painted black to reduce the transmission of any unexpected light, and an Army staple -- the metal, two-door storage cabinet -- was placed to the right for the storage of equipment, paper and chemicals.

Photo: Spacious interior of the new facility, section chief seated at desk at the rear of the building

Photo Credit: MIV

Photo: Senior technician operates a print dryer in the held-hand camera processing lab

Photo Credit:  MIV

An Unforseen Benefit: A Resource For the US Air Force In DaNang

Photo: Photo processing lab for the hand-held camera initiative

Photo Credit: MIV


Left:  "B" Detachment's laboratory for processing hand-held photography, located in the new Repro Section facility at the end of the building opposite to the ES-38A.  With walls taped at the joints to seal light leaks from the outside, the centerpiece of the facility was the Lucky brand commercial enlarger, on the work table at center, purchased months earlier at the Post Exchange to support the Hand-held Camera Program.  The work table was built to correct height by the SeaBees, and a folding field table was used on the floor in front of the enlarger when a larger projected image was needed for printing.  There was neither air conditioning nor powered ventilation, but a refrigerator did provide some cooling capability for the chemicals that were used in film development and printing.  

1st MIBARS owes an expression of gratitude to retired Navy CAPT Carroll LaFon, a  blogger known as Neptunus Lex, who died in the crash of a jet aircraft at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada, home of the Top Gun school.  CAPT LaFon creatied Neptunus Lex, the on-line discussion medium from which thefirst  posting, below, was retrieved.  It provides veterans of the 1st MIBARS with a glimpse of one of its heretofore unknown contributions to the war effort in South Vietnam.  The poster, an Air Force aviator, provides confirmation that the efforts of "B" Detachment's personnel, in pursuing a capability to process small format aerial photography in 1967, created results not anticipated at the time.  And that would be the establishment of a resource to more directly support military personnel outside of the walls of the I Corps Compound and, indeed, outside of the US Army, who were in daily combat and who risked their lives in the skies and battlegrounds of South Vietnam. 

From Neptunus Lex:

"They also issued us Pentax 35mm slrs [single lens reflex cameras] – took a lot of hand held photo recce [reconnaissance].  In fact George Brown, CG [commanding general] 7th AF [Air Force] after Momeyer left, is on record as saying that the vast majority of actionable photo intel [intelligence] taken in-country was the hand-held stuff by FACs [Forward Air Controllers] – except that AF gnd [ground] support was so lousy that every FAC in I-Corps ended up flying film back to DaNang to be developed by the ARMY (believe it or not) at their 1st MIBARS (Mil Intel) facility where we sucked hind tit behind Army priorities – then flew photos BACK up to Quang Tri or down to Quang Ngai City or where ever.  Helluva way to run a railroad."

Virgil Xenophon,  on the blog www(dot)NeptunusLex(dot)com, February 8, 2009

And From A Blog On Counter Insurgency:

"The really nice thing about the [Army OV-1] Mohawk was its in-cockpit real-time IR [infrared] readout. No other ac [aircraft] in Vietnam had that capability until FLIR came along much later (and was only avail on ac OPCON to out-country ops in Laos, or the Vietnam portion of the Ho chi Minh trail, (but as such those assets were not under daily tactical control of in-country Army USAV [US Army Vietnam] or MACV [Military Assistance Command Vietnam] units.( The MOHAWK, allied with Army MIBAR intel/recce [intelligence/reconnaissance] units was, sadly the only in-country capability the Army had (AFAIK) circa 67-68 at least.

I know a little bit about the Mohawk mainly because all we I-Corps USAF MACV FACS [US Air Force, Military Assistance Command -Vietnam, Forwar d Air Controllers] took our hand-held 35-mm camera intel [intelligence] to the 1st MIBARS in DaNang for development on spot rather than send it down to HQ 7thAF Saigon where it might get sent back up a week or so later–i.e., useless–to I-DASC [Direct Air Support Center, which allocated available fighter-bombers], let alone filter down to the province FACS."

Virgil Xenophon, on the blog Bring the Heat, Bring the Stupid!, xbradtc(dot)com, September 12, 2014

Reproduction Section MAIN PAGE

ES-38A -- Mobile Darkroom Facility

ES-38A -- A Closer Look

Expanded Capabilities

Scenes From the Repro Shop

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